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Top 25 Breakthrough CPG Product Innovations of 2019

Products on the list include those in the food and beverage, personal care, OTC, and petcare categories and reflect consumer trends such as good-for-you ingredients, convenience, and a move away from traditional beverage products, among others.

PepsiCo's bubly sparkling water
PepsiCo’s bubly sparkling water line was among the Top 25 Breakthrough Innovations, aligning with sparkling water’s position as the fastest-growing category in bottled water, at 30%.

Global measurement and data analytics company Nielsen Global Connect has released its Top 25 Breakthrough Innovation winners for 2019, powered by its BASES Activation Profiles consulting framework. According to the company, for close to a decade, this list has been the gold standard in recognizing innovation and global success within the Consumer Packaged Goods space. Says Nielsen, the steady growth and diversification of its Top 25 Breakthrough Innovations mirrors the shifting tides of today’s consumer landscape and reinforces the idea that today, success comes in many different forms and strategies.

Amazingly, Nielsen’s innovation data shows that in 2019, a new product was launched into the U.S. marketplace every two minutes. Building on this, it says, over the last three years, brick-and-mortar CPG unit volume has barely wavered above a 1% growth rate year-over-year in the U.S.—a statistic that it declares is a “clear indicator that some innovations aren’t earning their keep.”  

This year’s Breakthrough Innovation process reviewed close to 45,000 product launches introduced to the market in 2017. Explains Genevieve Lee Aronson, Vice President of Communications for Nielson, “The Nielsen Breakthrough Innovation analysis always factors in two years of sales, so the products named in the 2019 list came to market prior to last year.” Among the qualifications, the products must have exhibited strong Year 1 sales of >$50 million, and sustained or growth of Year 1 sales in Year 2, meaning >90% of Year 1 sales in Year 2.

She adds that the criteria for breakthrough success also takes into account the strategies that led to a brand’s success, such as creation of a product that had brand incrementality, category distinction, and/or successful appeal toward a specific consumer target. This includes the way in which the products leveraged the power of visuals at shelf through package design and how creative drove the products’ success.

Among the products selected, five were beverages: bubly Sparkling Water and Mtn Dew DEW-S-A, both from PepsiCo, Dunkin’ Donuts Bottled Iced Coffee from Coca-Cola, The Red Bull Summer Edition from Red Bull North America, and White Claw Hard Seltzer from Mark Anthony Brands. The majority reflect growing consumer trends, including the rise in sales of RTD coffee—the category increased 16% from mid-2018 to mid-2019; sparkling water’s position as the fastest-growing category in bottled water, at 30%:, and the meteoric rise of hard seltzers, which showed 200% growth in 2019, more than 164% of which occurred in July 2019 alone.

Nielsen’s choice of most innovative new food products reflects consumers’ ongoing interest in good-for-you foods. Among the brands included in the Top 25 were Caulipower LLC’s Caulipower cauliflower crust pizza; Dave’s Killer Bread and Bagels whole grain organic bakery products from Flowers Foods; General Mills’ Oui by Yoplait, a French-style yogurt notable for its use of a glass jar; and RxBar from RxBar, known for its healthy, “No B.S.” ingredients and minimalist packaging.

Showing that quick preparation and convenience continues to be a major consideration for consumers, Kraft Heinz’s Devour frozen meals made the list, as did its Just Crack an Egg line, which offers consumers a hot egg scramble in less than two minutes. Also selected was Lamb Weston Grown In Idaho potato products, such as fries and hash browns.

Regarding the presence of sweet and salty snack products on the list, a recent report from Innova Market Insights found that snacking has become an all-day habit in the U.S. While 46% of consumers eat salty snacks between meals in the afternoon and 37% in the evening, more consumers are also replacing traditional meals with quicker bites, the report noted. Representing the snacks category in the Top 25 are Lay’s Poppables potato snacks from Frito-Lay, RITZ Crisp & Thins thin chips from Mondelēz, and Kinder Joy milk chocolate eggs from Ferrero.

Personal care is also well represented on the list, with many of the products addressing consumers’ concern with chemical ingredients. Products include Baby Dove hypoallergenic skincare products from Unilever, Herbal Essences bio:renew naturally derived shampoo and conditioner from P&G, Just For Men Control GX grey-reducing haircare products from Combe, Maui Moisture hair products, with “handpicked & handcrafted ingredients,” from Johnson & Johnson, and Parodontax toothpaste from GSK. With a nod to the growth of e-commerce, Harry’s men’s grooming and shave supplies, a pioneer in subscription services in the category, was also included on the list.

Last but not least on the list (the Top 25 products all carried equal weight), were two allergy relief products, Flonase Sensimist from GSK and Xyzal from Sanofi; one cosmetic, L’Oréal Paris’s Voluminous Lash Paradise; and one petcare product, Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Slide clumping cat litter.

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